Exploring ignorance: genetic complexity and the hox genes

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Some creationists have raised some pretty foolish (1) claims about evolutionary theory:

Who Is Your Creator Wrote:

1. Evolution predicts that genetic complexity is gained gradually, but specific genetic material for creating advanced features appeared “long before” in organisms that supposedly evolved millions of years earlier:

“Long before animals with limbs (tetrapods) came onto the scene about 365 million years ago, fish already possessed the genes associated with helping to grow hands and feet (autopods) report University of Chicago researchers … The capability of building limbs with fingers and toes existed for a long period of time, but it took a set of environmental triggers to make use of that capability… ‘It had the tools,’ he said, ‘but it needed the opportunity as well.’”

Source: Hox gene research and new data on how fish grew feet

The paper in question is

Davis, M.C., Dahn, R.D., Shubin, N.H. An autopodial-like pattern of Hox expression in the fins of a basal actinopterygian fish. Nature. 2007. Vol. 447. Pages 473 - 476.

Abstract Comparative analyses of Hox gene expression and regulation in teleost fish and tetrapods support the long-entrenched notion that the distal region of tetrapod limbs, containing the wrist, ankle and digits, is an evolutionary novelty. Data from fossils support the notion that the unique features of tetrapod limbs were assembled over evolutionary time in the paired fins of fish. The challenge in linking developmental and palaeontological approaches has been that developmental data for fins and limbs compare only highly derived teleosts and tetrapods; what is lacking are data from extant taxa that retain greater portions of the fin skeletal morphology considered primitive to all bony fish. Here, we report on the expression and function of genes implicated in the origin of the autopod in a basal actinopterygian, Polyodon spathula. Polyodon exhibits a late-phase, inverted collinear expression of 5’ HoxD genes, a pattern of expression long considered a developmental hallmark of the autopod and shown in tetrapods to be controlled by a ‘digit enhancer’ region. These data show that aspects of the development of the autopod are primitive to tetrapods and that the origin of digits entailed the redeployment of ancient patterns of gene activity.

As the press release observes

This finding overturns a long-held, but much-debated, theory that limb acquisition was a novel evolutionary event, requiring the descendents of lobed-fin fish to dramatically alter their genes to adapt their bodies to their new environments of streams and swamps.

In other words, the original hypothesis was that a ‘dramatic change’ was required for limbs to develop. Such a position would be a much larger problem for evolutionary theory than finding that the re-use of a duplicated hox gene for limb evolution explains the origin and evolution of the tetrapod limb.

The problem was that science was using the zebra fish as a representative species which does not show a second stage of hox expression. However, the paddlefish does show such a second stage

Tetrapods have a second phase of Hox gene expression that happens later in development. During this second phase, hands and feet develop. Although this second phase is not known in zebrafish, the scientists found that it is present in paddlefish, which reveals that a pattern of gene activity long thought to be unique to vertebrates with hands and feet is in fact much more primitive.

In other words, the evidence ties together fins and limbs using genetic data. However, the genetic data is not the only evidence

This is the first molecular support for the theory that the genes to help make fingers and toes have been around for a long time–well before the 375-million-year-old Tiktaalik roseae, the newly found species discovered in 2004 by Shubin and colleagues. Tiktaalik provided a missing evolutionary link between fish and tetrapods and was among the first creatures that walked out of water onto land.

Source: Neil H. Shubin, Edward B. Daeschler, Farish A. Jenkins (2006), The pectoral fin of Tiktaalik roseae and the origin of the tetrapod limb, Nature 440, pp. 764-771

and in fact recent research Boisvert further strengthened the fossil evidence

Source: Catherine A. Boisvert, Elga Mark-Kurik, Per E. Ahlberg (2008), The pectoral fin of Panderichthys and the origin of digits, Nature (21 Sep 2008), Letters to Editor

This form of co-option is a common evolutionary strategy, and in fact countless other instances of co-option show how prevalent this form of evolutionary variation is. While some may see this as disproving evolutionary theory because it is an ‘abrupt’ rather than a ‘gradual’ change, they are missing the point that evolution modified pre-existing variation to modify the secondary stage of fin formation to limb formation.

In fact, this in what other authors, who found similar two stage expressions in sharks, have proposed

The results indicate that a second, distal phase of Hoxd gene expression is not uniquely associated with tetrapod digit development, but is more likely a plesiomorphic condition present the common ancestor of chondrichthyans and osteichthyans. We propose that a temporal extension, rather than de novo activation, of Hoxd expression in the distal part of the fin may have led to the evolution of digits.

Renata Freitas, GuangJun Zhang, Martin J. Cohn Biphasic Hoxd Gene Expression in Shark Paired Fins Reveals an Ancient Origin of the Distal Limb Domain, PLoS ONE 2(8): e754. 2007 limb_evo_med.PNG


(1) Augustine “A.D. 354-430) The Literal Meaning of Genesis (De Genesi ad litteram libri duodecim) translated by by J. H. Taylor in Ancient Christian Writers, Newman Press, 1982, volume 41. p42

Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a graceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of the faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learned from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.

35 Comments

Oh no, we keep finding more evidence in favor of evolution!

Waterloo, it’s time to abandon evolutionary theory and to sink into ID ignorance!

Apparently IDists never change, just proclaim victory at every defeat, and hope that the rubes are too stupid to understand. If they can continue to keep them from learning anything, it’s likely they won’t understand, and thus the cycle of ignorance will not be broken.

Glen D

http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

They will pull a Palin and claim this entire line of argument “vindicates” them.

Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a graceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of the faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learned from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.

Ausgustine said all that, yet he remained a Christian himself. One would naturally think that if the Bible, even in its literal meaning, was wrong about issues like Earth history, we need not take its dogmas about salvation at face value either. Wait until FL shows up to start more crap with me. And PvM, PLEASE do not close the comment thread between him and me like you did the last one. I like busting him and will gladly do it again!

nice. very nice. but all this is wasted on Who Is Your Creator. On the website, I got to the first item on one of the lists of disproofs of evolution; a citation essentially saying “in transitional forms, intermediacy is generally an intermediate mixture of traits, rather than a set of intermediate traits”. That this was posted demonstrates an abject inability to grasp relatively simple statements, let alone comprehensive discussions of hox genes. Whoever assembles these lists probably accepts any material claimed to be damaging to evolution without further mental engagement.

Forgive my ignorance, but shed of technicalities, isn’t “Preadaptation” another way of describing how neutral mutations suddenly become advantagous as conditions change.

Pretty much as I understand puntuated equilibrium?

Alloytoo said:

Forgive my ignorance, but shed of technicalities, isn’t “Preadaptation” another way of describing how neutral mutations suddenly become advantagous as conditions change.

Pretty much as I understand puntuated equilibrium?

The mutations don’t necessarily have to be neutral, and no: Preadaptation means that a trait or feature that was originally selected for in one situation is coopted for a new use due to new and different selective pressures.

For example, hairs modified into defensive quills are then modified into noise-making rattles, or feathers that were used for insulation are modified for use as flight organs and banners in species recognition, or proteases originally used in the digestion of proteins for food are then used to catalyze the blood clotting cascade.

Thank you for the exposure and proving once again that it always comes down to trying to deny God, doesn’t it?

So, the explanation for the miraculous appearance of genes producing features not physically manifested yet is:

“The results indicate that a second, distal phase of Hoxd gene expression is not uniquely associated with tetrapod digit development, but is more likely a plesiomorphic condition present the common ancestor of chondrichthyans and osteichthyans. We propose that a temporal extension, rather than de novo activation, of Hoxd expression in the distal part of the fin may have led to the evolution of digits.”

Propose all you wish but we prefer empirical evidence so when you prove it, let us know.

Keep in mind that the hypothesis for PE is NOT backed up with empircal science and still hangs out there pseudoscience: “Punctuated equilibrium helped to explain why many transitional forms apparently were missing from the fossil record. According to the hypothesis of punctuated equilibrium, transitional forms existed for brief periods of time, and so were unlikely to become fossils … This view has not been universally accepted, by paleontologists or biologists working with modern species.” http://paleobiology.si.edu/geotime/[…]n_life3.html

I can’t to hear your ‘proposals’ for the below research:

“Despite being developmentally simple–with no organs or many specialized cells–the placozoan has counterparts of the transcription factors that more complex organisms need to make their many body parts and tissues. It also has genes for many of the proteins, such as membrane proteins, needed for specialized cells to coordinate their function. “Many genes viewed as having particular ‘functions’ in bilaterians or mammals turn out to have much deeper evolutionary history than expected, raising questions about why they evolved,” says Douglas Erwin, an evolutionary biologist at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) in Washington, D.C.” http://darwiniana.com/2008/09/20/%E[…]99-animal%E2% 80%99s-genome-proves-unexpectedly-complex/ “A recently sequenced genome of sea urchin (see Fig. 1) represents another very clear example of a seemingly excessive genetic complexity. As mentioned above, the relatively simple sea urchin has about 24,000 genes, same as more complex vertebrates. Though sea urchin lacks eyes and, of course, brain, it has six opsins, belonging to several families found in humans, Drosophila, Scallops and other groups. While the presence of the opsins could be explained by their possible function in a simple light sensing, sea urchin has the entire set of orthologs of major genes involved in the eye development … Therefore, it appears that information on the eye development is encoded in the sea urchin genome, while no eye is actually developed, and thus the genetic information seems to be excessive.” http://www.machanaim.org/philosof/n[…]l_genome.htm

“Another surprise came from a complexity of components of the immune system in sea urchin. In addition to an extremely well developed system of the innate immunity, these animals possess genes encoding major components of the adaptive immune response … Yet, sea urchin does not have antibodies, and possibly lacks adaptive immunity in general. Genes that are seemingly useless in sea urchin but are very useful in higher taxons exemplify excessive genetic information in lower taxons.” http://www.machanaim.org/philosof/n[…]l_genome.htm

who is your creator said:

Thank you for the exposure and proving once again that it always comes down to trying to deny God, doesn’t it?

I am in no position to evaluate your position however I do see some foolish ignorance which comes down to deny God, even though I understand that this may not be your goal. As to denying God, I personally do not find it necessary to deny God.

So, the explanation for the miraculous appearance of genes producing features not physically manifested yet is:

“The results indicate that a second, distal phase of Hoxd gene expression is not uniquely associated with tetrapod digit development, but is more likely a plesiomorphic condition present the common ancestor of chondrichthyans and osteichthyans. We propose that a temporal extension, rather than de novo activation, of Hoxd expression in the distal part of the fin may have led to the evolution of digits.”

Propose all you wish but we prefer empirical evidence so when you prove it, let us know.

This is empirical evidence based on the genetic data as well as the more recent fossil data. In other words, there is nothing miraculous about evolution re-using existing components such as found with HoxD. While in fish, HoxD’s second phase expression is used to define the fins, in tetrapods, the second phase is used to define the digits and in some fish, such as the zebra fish, the second phase has been lost.

I appreciate why you now have chosen to move the goalposts to other foolish claims on your part. Let me advise you that, time allowing, I intend to address your other areas of ignorance as well. Sufficient to say that I have shown your claims about hox genes to be a flawed representation of empirical fact.

Hope this clarifies. I can only hope that you will change your foolish notions found on your ‘website’ and will refrain from repeating these flawed arguments in future communications.

In Christ.

Since you obviously don’t know that “more likely” and “propose” is NOT the same as “empirical evidence,” debating with you is futile.

I’ll wait for a more worthy opponent.

“who is your creator” said: “Thank you for the exposure and proving once again that it always comes down to trying to deny God, doesn’t it?”

There is no denial of any god here. What there is, is an honest attempt to deal with what the currently available evidence shows, not what dogma would try to dictate.

If you want to make up stories about what your god did or didn’t do, you’re most welcome to. You’re not welcome to try to impose those inventions on others.

But if you make up these stories, and then find that the facts deny your inventions, what’s being denied here is your “just-so” stories, not any god. Get that right first.

“who is your creator” said: “Propose all you wish but we prefer empirical evidence so when you prove it, let us know.”

The empirical evidence of the fossil record is precisely what Eldredge & Gould used. When you have a peer-reviewed science supporting your own hypotheses, then by all means feel free to present it. Otherwise it just sounds like petulance and sour grapes, don’t you find?

“who is your creator” said: “Keep in mind that the hypothesis for PE is NOT backed up with empircal science and still hangs out there pseudoscience”

Why there is this dogma amongst creationists that the fossil record should somehow contain examples of every step in the evolution of every species from the first cell, right through to modern organisms is a complete mystery to me. Nothing in the Theory of Evolution claims that it should or does. Perhaps you can throw some light on that for us?

Stanton said:

For example, hairs modified into defensive quills are then modified into noise-making rattles, or feathers that were used for insulation are modified for use as flight organs and banners in species recognition, or proteases originally used in the digestion of proteins for food are then used to catalyze the blood clotting cascade.

I’m not quite sure what all the fuss is about then, it’s really nothing more than glorified natural selection finding niches to exploit and occassionally causing speciation.

Seems Who is your Creator is unable to counter the empirical evidence, as well as the proposed hypotheses. Since much of Who is your Creator’s ‘arguments’ were based on a misunderstanding of the actual facts, it is particularly ironic to see him with no response.

Seems WIYC has confused the empirical evidence with the proposed hypotheses, both the empirical evidence as well as the proposed hypotheses run counter to his claims.

I have started to look at the opsin arguments which again seem to be mostly based on ignorance on the part of our confused Christian friend.

who is your creator said:

Since you obviously don’t know that “more likely” and “propose” is NOT the same as “empirical evidence,” debating with you is futile.

I’ll wait for a more worthy opponent.

who is your creator said: So, the explanation for the miraculous appearance of genes producing features not physically manifested yet is…”

Once again you are mistaking your own ignorance about biology for miracles. The genes used to produce structure B are not miraculously present before B appears, they are mutations of the genes previously used to produce structure A. I fail to see the miraculous when a mutation in the gene sequence used to form a leg results in a leg-like proboscis.

Wouldn’t it be far more miraculous if the genes for a proboscis looked nothing whatsoever like kludged-together leg-building genes?

who is your creator said: Thank you for the exposure and proving once again that it always comes down to trying to deny God, doesn’t it?

Which god is being denied? What emprical proof do you have that the god being denied here is the creator god mentioned in Genesis, versus any particular one of several thousand other gods mentioned in any of thousands of other creation mythologies?

who is your creator said:

Since you obviously don’t know that “more likely” and “propose” is NOT the same as “empirical evidence,” debating with you is futile.

I’ll wait for a more worthy opponent.

You sound like the Black Knight in ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ as his limbs are cut off. Just like your arguments I would say. And what is all this ‘ I’ll wait for a more worthy opponent ‘ stuff. Are you also a Troll on a high horse !!

who is your creator said:

Since you obviously don’t know that “more likely” and “propose” is NOT the same as “empirical evidence,” debating with you is futile.

I’ll wait for a more worthy opponent.

A creation pseudoscience proponent asking for empirical evidence? My irony meter just exploded.

who is your creator lying:

Thank you for the exposure and proving once again that it always comes down to trying to deny God, doesn’t it?

Propose all you wish but we prefer empirical evidence so when you prove it, let us know.

Since you obviously don’t know that “more likely” and “propose” is NOT the same as “empirical evidence,” debating with you is futile.

I’ll wait for a more worthy opponent.

Evolution does not deny the existence of God.

Evolution is supported by a vast amount of empirical evidence.

Creationism is supported by NO empirical evidence.

So why are you wasting your time with nonsense?

Ian said:

Why there is this dogma amongst creationists that the fossil record should somehow contain examples of every step in the evolution of every species from the first cell, right through to modern organisms is a complete mystery to me. Nothing in the Theory of Evolution claims that it should or does. Perhaps you can throw some light on that for us?

It’s called “moving the goalposts”. Whenever a transitional fossil form is discovered, the Creationists still whine about “gaps” remaining in the fossil record. The fact that Creationists resort to such tactics instead of asking themselves why God would make such fossils to fool us into believeing in evolution is enough to discredit the whole thing as meaningless.

Dale Husband said:

Evolution does not deny the existence of God.

I might offer to those inclined to argue with assertive visitors that it would be interesting to find out if meteorology and weather forecasting are regarded as atheistic as well. Same rules as apply to evo science, right? Officially agnostic either way.

The interesting thing is that the Bible makes a very large number of references to Divine control over the weather. I haven’t heard yet of anyone objecting to atheistic weather reports – but it would be interesting to find out. I offer that for others to pursue. I read one sentence of postings by intruders and my eyes glaze over. Two sentences and I have to struggle to take a breath.

PS: On the continuous replication of goalposts as new “missing links” are introduced … I notice a new trick the other day, which was to declare that new missing links prove the earlier ones were invalid. NO STONE LEFT UNTHROWN.

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

who is your creator said:

Since you obviously don’t know that “more likely” and “propose” is NOT the same as “empirical evidence,” debating with you is futile.

I’ll wait for a more worthy opponent.

Is this guy for real?

Is this guy for real?

Oh, they’re for real, all right. They love to parade their dementia for all to see. They somehow gain karma with their fellow believers for doing battle on behalf of their shared delusions.

iml8 said: The interesting thing is that the Bible makes a very large number of references to Divine control over the weather. I haven’t heard yet of anyone objecting to atheistic weather reports

It happens with extreme weather. Hurricanes, for instance. Type “weather” and “god” into Google and you’ll get a lot of pages claiming God sends bad storms. But no, I doubt you’ll hear anyone claiming that God is the reason today’s high is 78 degrees farenheit.

Mainstream religions gave up on the argument that obvious, reoccurring phenomena are the result of miracles a long time ago. Too many disappointments. :)

eric said: Type “weather” and “god” into Google and you’ll get a lot of pages claiming God sends bad storms.

Most Christians don’t know this but their God (whose name is Yahweh (not Jehovah - that was a sloppy transliteration - and “God” is an occupational title, not a name) got His start in the godding business as a storm god. Solomon’s Temple even had a special room where Yahweh could manifest Himself in His aspect of a storm cloud.

eric said:

It happens with extreme weather. Hurricanes, for instance. Type “weather” and “god” into Google and you’ll get a lot of pages claiming God sends bad storms.

True enough as far as that goes. “Hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment for America’s sins!” “Well, yeah, but it might be God’s punishment for having a coastal city featuring substantial tracts below sea level and with inadequate flood control – in a hurricane-prone region.” (“In the game of Life there are severe penalties for laziness and stupidity.”)

However, for some reason I have yet to understand, even given modern invocations of Divine influence over the weather, nobody seems to get very upset over the fact that the weather people never take such influences into consideration. Then again, maybe people would get upset if some network weather anchor wrote a book titled THE GOD INSANITY or such.

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

who is your creator said:

Since you obviously don’t know that “more likely” and “propose” is NOT the same as “empirical evidence,” debating with you is futile.

I’ll wait for a more worthy opponent.

Identifying religious argument 101: (“I can’t see! I can’t see! I can’t see! … I’ve got my eyes closed”) Always worth noting, creationists (and extreme ideologues in general) refuse to grasp the difference between deduction (the basis of fact and proof in logic) and induction (the basis of fact and proof in nature). It’s only the most central detail of scientific philosophy that an empirical fact can only ever be demonstrated inductively, but when a creationist is confronted with something they’d prefer wasn’t true, they say “shan’t believe unless you prooooooooove it”; and dig their heels in waiting for deductive proof. Naturally this standard doesn’t apply to their own hand-waving arguments, but these aren’t scrutinized with a sense of terrified defensiveness.

And of course, as in this case, having a likely explanation IS indeed a valid refutation of the creationist claim that their is a proof of impossibility

snaxalotl said:

And of course, as in this case, having a likely explanation IS indeed a valid refutation …

There is a certain dark humor in complaints of the unfairness of such refutations: “I am SHOCKED! SHOCKED! that anyone could reply with such … GLIB RHETORICAL TRICKERY to our arguments!”

The real humor is in the fact that they don’t understand for a second why such complaints are funny. “I’m tempted to say that I am surprised that you folks could say such things – but actually surprised is the last thing I am. I know perfectly well you’re barely getting warmed up.”

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

snaxalotl said:

who is your creator said:

Since you obviously don’t know that “more likely” and “propose” is NOT the same as “empirical evidence,” debating with you is futile.

I’ll wait for a more worthy opponent.

Identifying religious argument 101: (“I can’t see! I can’t see! I can’t see! … I’ve got my eyes closed”) Always worth noting, creationists (and extreme ideologues in general) refuse to grasp the difference between deduction (the basis of fact and proof in logic) and induction (the basis of fact and proof in nature). It’s only the most central detail of scientific philosophy that an empirical fact can only ever be demonstrated inductively, but when a creationist is confronted with something they’d prefer wasn’t true, they say “shan’t believe unless you prooooooooove it”; and dig their heels in waiting for deductive proof. Naturally this standard doesn’t apply to their own hand-waving arguments, but these aren’t scrutinized with a sense of terrified defensiveness.

And of course, as in this case, having a likely explanation IS indeed a valid refutation of the creationist claim that their is a proof of impossibility

Agreed. Still, while I was still pretty young at the time, I do remember the time when terms like “more likely” and “propose” bothered me, too. The truly scientifically naive person is discomforted by the careful and appropriate terms we use, because to them it sounds like so much guesswork.

It takes some time and study to recognize that science works exactly with that kind of care about what is ambiguous, while operating in the kind of constrained context that makes “more likely” and other conditionals far more meaningful than one would assume in the vernacular.

Occasionally I end up wondering if we should talk more definitely around the public, but inevitably end up concluding that we should not. It’s science, we have to mark the ambiguities, however poorly someone like “who” understands inductive reasoning. If “who” doesn’t want to sound like an ignoramus poking his head into science it’s time he gets an honest education or learns when to keep his ignorant prattle to himself.

The fact is that IDists/creationists will always exploit the ambiguities of science, while contradictorily whingeing about the science being “dogmatic,” both because they’re ignorant, and because they only can play word games.

I would say that “who” in one sense cannot help but expose his appalling ignorance of science by complaining about the care with which science is expressed, but he also indicates by it that he only cares to carp about what he doesn’t understand, instead of trying to honestly understand. It’s a failure of ignorance, yes, but it is also a moral failure on his part.

Glen D

http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

snaxalotl said: … the creationist claim that their is a proof of impossibility

crap. 44 years without messing up the there/their distinction goes down the toilet

Glen Davidson said:

… Occasionally I end up wondering if we should talk more definitely around the public, but inevitably end up concluding that we should not …

… he only cares to carp about what he doesn’t understand, instead of trying to honestly understand …

IMO the answer is always being prepared to talk about the process of argument. I see a lot of people on the science side getting bogged down arguing content, but the science side almost always wins in terms of content. The reason Hovind isn’t humiliated in public debates is because his opponent usually gets suckered into thinking he has to address every demented item of content, when they should be explaining that Kent is talking like an effing lunatic. In psychotherapy, the practitioner is skilled at dividing focus between process and content … failing to do this can mean spending three hours discussing the merits of one particular brand of foil for subverting alien thought control, instead of usefully advancing the discussion

What gets me about it is the obvious sequence of the creationist argument:

“Prove it.”

“Well, there’s this evidence, and this evidence, and this evidence…”

“That isn’t proof! You don’t know everything, there’s bits you can’t explain, I won’t believe that stuff over there, and I can’t follow the arguments anyway. So you haven’t proven it, so I win, yada yada yada.”

Garbage. I’m not going down that road.

“Prove it.”

“Look it up. There’s a hundred and fifty years of research and a whole branch of science based on it. It works, and it has worked from the start. The hay’s in the barn, the runs are on the board, the results are in. Now prove your account of creation, while I snigger and point out its blindingly obvious internal contradictions and multiple points where it requires yet another miracle. Or if you won’t educate yourself, go away. Nobody’s listening.”

Dave Luckett said:

What gets me about it is the obvious sequence of the creationist argument …

I like to play the game of saying I believe the Moon is made of green cheese and then daring someone to convince me I’m wrong. I know perfectly well I could string anyone foolish enough to try along until the end of the Universe.

I find it important to remember with lunatic-fringers that this game is all they’ve got. Sales pitch? They don’t have one. “You need to buy my product – convince me that you shouldn’t” is not a sales pitch.

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

Dave Luckett said:

What gets me about it is the obvious sequence of the creationist argument:

“Prove it.”

“Well, there’s this evidence, and this evidence, and this evidence…”

“That isn’t proof! You don’t know everything, there’s bits you can’t explain…”

One of my favorite quotes ever from a creationist cybersoldier was from the ever-fascinating Evolution vs. Creation Forum at evcforum.net (which I’m surprised doesn’t get mentioned more often around these parts).

To paraphrase pretty closely, I think: “You people keep talking about evidence. We don’t want evidence, we want proof!”

Kinda one of those Creationism in a Nutshell moments. The conviction that true answers ought to be easily and instantly graspable, in one blinding flash, like revelation. And that painstakingly assembling inferences from many different clues that by themselves are ambiguous, is tantamount to guesswork. Of course this standard usually gets applied only to things they don’t want to believe.

Forgive me if I’m late in noticing this, but, Dale, do remember that St Auggie was following what Galileo would eventually state later, in that “the Bible shows us how to get to Heaven, and is not actually about the Heavens.”

That, and Jesus never specifically told Christians that they were obligated to reject reality in order to accept His love.

Dale Husband said:

Ausgustine said all that, yet he remained a Christian himself. One would naturally think that if the Bible, even in its literal meaning, was wrong about issues like Earth history, we need not take its dogmas about salvation at face value either.

who is your creator said:

Thank you for the exposure and proving once again that it always comes down to trying to deny God, doesn’t it?

Thank you for once again proving that creationists are so stupid and dishonest that they are utterly incapable of responding to criticism without making shit up, and utterly incapable of understanding that making shit up is not a valid argument.

What you’ve said here just isn’t true, and it’s obvious from the very essay you’re responding to, posted on this very page, that it isn’t true. You’re obviously stupid and delusional, but it’s hard to believe even you can blatantly ignore the plain meaning of English text and just substitute your own hallucinations without realizing that doing so is lying. Isn’t your imaginary god supposed to have some sort of problem with bearing false witness?

iml8 said: However, for some reason I have yet to understand, even given modern invocations of Divine influence over the weather, nobody seems to get very upset over the fact that the weather people never take such influences into consideration.

Most weather reporting is local. Storm victims and viewing audience are most often the same or closely overlapping groups. So if you claim God is punishing the victims for their sins, you’re saying something nasty about most of your own viewing audience. Were I a TV producer, I would not allow my weather reporters to do that - and it ain’t about the first amendment, I’m worried about ratings.

Going along with this hypothesis, I’d expect that you might see weather reporters in religious areas saying God is responsible for the local weather, but only when the local weather is excellent (i.e. when the statement implies the regular viewing audience is favored by God).

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on October 15, 2008 7:57 PM.

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